1k+ youth to welcome Pope at Villamor Airbase

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MANILA, Nov. 28, 2014— More than a thousand young Filipinos will greet Pope Francis upon his arrival in Manila.

Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chairman of the papal visit arrival and departure committee, said some 1,200 youths will greet him at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City “with vibrant music and dance.”

youth9“Two children will offer him flowers. They will be orphans who have come to know God as our Father through the love and care of selfless men and women,” Mercado said.

All the other details, he said, are still being finalized and will be made public in the coming days “so that you can share our excitement, because Pope Francis has brought us together: men and women of faith, men and women of government.”

Fr. Lito Jopson of the media and information committee said the youths will also perform a “Filipino dance” at the airport when the Pope arrives from Sri Lanka at dusk on Jan. 15.

“Despite the gathering darkness, we plan to brighten the night with the warmth of our love,” Mercado said.

Jocson said that among those expected to welcome the pontiff include President Benigno Aquino III, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

“It will just be a simple welcome ceremony,” he said.

Security concerns

The government assured that all necessary measures for the Pope’s security and that of the crowd will be put in place.

But Ambassador Marciano Paynor, the government’s chief protocol officer, said they will also need the cooperation of the public in ensuring that the papal visit “is one thing to remember.”

“If we’re able to get the cooperation of everyone, then everyone is a security person also. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to the Pope, that’s why we’re asking the people to help,” Paynor said.

He also said both the government and the church are calling for active lay participation in securing the papal visit “rather than just [being] onlookers.”

“The Church is encouraging everyone to contain themselves, contain their enthusiasm….No pushing, no shouting, just to be able to see His Holiness,” Paynor added.

Pope mobile

Organizers said the Argentine pontiff will be provided with a vehicle where he will to the public although there will be instances that he will use a closed vehicle.

Presidential Communications Undersecretary Jess Yu said the popemobile was being designed in coordination with Vatican security, but refused to give more details about it, citing security reasons. (CBCPNews)

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